How to prune gardenia?

Growing gardenias in pots require some care and attention but they worth that as gardenias are famous for their heady fragrance and beautiful appearance.

Growing gardenias in pots is possible, especially if you’re short of space or live in cool temperate climate. Gardenia grows fairly easy in USDA Zones 8 to 11, below these zones, you’ll need to grow it either as a houseplant or keep it indoors in winter.

USDA Zones— 8 – 11, *can be grown in lower zones with care in winter

Difficulty— Moderate to Hard

Other Names— Gardenia jasminoides, cape jasmine, danh-danh, gandhraj, jasmine rose, rose jasmine

Gardenia is a subtropical shrub originated in Asia. Its large white rose like blooms are one of the most fragrant flowers and together with its feathery green foliage, the gardenia plant looks magnificent.

Requirements for Growing Gardenias in Pots


Choose a location that is warm, bright and sunny. One thing you need to care for when picking a spot for your gardenia shrub is that it needs good air circulation around it.

Maintain the air flow around it, also, be careful that you don’t place it in a location from where water will spill over its foliage every now and then as water droplets can lead a fungal growth on leaves


For growing gardenias in pots, choose quality potting soil that is light, well-drained and rich in organic matter. You can also use gritty mix soil for it. Clay-rich, water retaining soil must be avoided.

Soil must be acidic and pH level around 4.8 – 6 is ideal.


Water the plant deeply but only when the top one inch surface of the soil dries out. To check this, poke your index finger into the soil. In any case, avoid overwatering to prevent root rot.


Ideal humidity level is around 70%. When watering avoid misting or wetting the foliage to increase the humidity as this may cause fungal infection. Instead, place your potted gardenia on a pebble filled tray that is filled with water to increase the humidity level and moisture.


Temperature around 70 F (20 C) is optimum for gardenias, at this temperature flower buds are formed. Fluctuation in temperature damages the flower buds or they may take more time to bloom.

Temperature around 60 F – 85 F (15 C – 30 C) is ideal for its growth. Below 20 F (- 7 C) the plant faces substantial damage. Also, exposure to harsh afternoon sun in tropics, especially in summer can burn the leaves.

Also Read: How to Make a Small Fragrant Garden

Gardenia Plant Care


Repot your gardenia plant in every 2-3 years in late winter or early spring. While repotting, you don’t need to prune the roots as they are fine and shallow and pruning them can cause root damage.


Generally, for gardenia, acidic fertilizers are used. You can find special fertilizer for gardenia in any garden store or online. You can also fertilize it with azalea fertilizer.

Application of Epsom salt once in a month during the growing season is also essential for the proper growth of gardenia.

Acidic soil is the key to growing gardenias successfully. If your soil is not acidic, add sulfur to change the pH level.

Also Read: How to change your soil pH

Pruning Gardenia

When the flowering period is over, prune your shrub slightly to maintain its beautiful compact design. Remove all the dead, damaged or entangled branches that are crossing each other and thwarting the penetration of sun rays and air flow.


Remove spent flowers as soon as they wilt and fade. This will promote the emergence of new blooms.


Some gardenia varieties can tolerate temperatures down to 20 – 15 F (-6 to -10 C) but below this temperature it is hard to save this beautiful flowering shrub. So, if you’re growing gardenia in a pot in the cooler climate it is better to keep the plant indoors near a South facing window during winter and provide it warmth and temperature above 50 F (10 C).

Pests and Diseases

To prevent diseases avoid overhead watering and excessive watering. The main pests that attack it are aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites.

A Few Additional Tips

  • Don’t change the location of your gardenia again and again too often.
  • A slightly root bound gardenia plant will bloom more prolifically.
  • Used coffee grounds or tea can be a good feed for your gardenia.
  • Proper ventilation is important.

How to Prune a Gardenia Bush in 5 Simple Steps

A gardenia bush should be pruned with proper techniques and at the right time to prevent any kind of damage to the plant health. Read this article to know how to prune a gardenia bush.

Gardenia bush is well-known for its shiny, dark green foliage and beautiful white flowers with exquisite fragrance. Growing gardenia is a pretty simple task. It can be grown outdoors as well as indoors. It grows well in a warm climate. Therefore, in those areas where the winter is intolerable, this ornamental shrub is grown indoors in containers as a houseplant. It should be planted in a rich, well-drained soil and placed in one such location where it receives the morning sun. Pruning gardenia is a part of the plant care. However, it does not require pruning to keep the plant healthy. Rather, it is pruned for aesthetic reasons.

Gardenia Bush Pruning

Two of the most important aspects of gardenia care are the timing of the pruning and the tools to be used for the job. The main steps on how to prune a gardenia bush are as follows:

Step #1

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Selection of the right pruning time for gardenia bush is very important. It should be done only after its blooming season is over, but before the new buds of the next season make their appearances. Pruning is avoided during blooming period as it causes significant damage to the existing blossoms. On the other hand, it should be pruned prior to the onset of fall when the new buds appear. Pruning in fall season can badly ruin blossoms of the new season. Therefore, the ideal time for pruning the bush is late summer or early fall.

Step #2

You can prune gardenia bushes with small hand pruners. Always use sharp pruning shears for this job to ensure an even cut. Uneven cuts can make the plant prone to diseases. Bypass pruners are mostly recommended for pruning gardenia bush as it works like a pair of scissors. Thus, it gives clean cuts that can heal fast, which reduces the chances of any future problems in the plant after pruning.

Step #3

First of all, you have to eliminate all the damaged and diseased parts of the plant. Pinch out all the dead or wilted blooms from the plant. If any of the branches show signs of disease or fungal infestation, then cut them out from the base. While pruning, keep the pruner at a 45 degree angle. After pruning the diseased parts of the plant, you must wipe off the shears with a disinfected rag or else the disease may spread to other branches that come in contact with it. You may come across some stems that do not have any growth. Those are probably dead stems and you must cut them out.

Step #4

Make a thorough inspection of the shrub from all sides and angles to identify the locations of the stems and leaves that are protruding out. Pruning is done to eliminate these extra shoots that keep growing from all directions in order to give a more fuller look to the shrub. You should trim the branches that are growing laterally as they can ruin the shape of the bush later on. You can also give a desired shape and size to the foliage. For this, you have to prune several inches along the edges of the plant. Maximum pruning should be done at the topmost part of the plant. This will improve air circulation through the foliage and promote growth of new shoots.

Step #5

While pruning gardenia, you must keep one thing in mind that you cannot prune more than one-third of the plant. Once you finish pruning, all trash materials should be disposed off immediately. Otherwise, the pests from the diseased branches may attack the bush all over again. Do not water the plant for the next few hours after pruning.

Usually, a gardenia bush does not have vigorous growth. So, you can prune it after a gap of two years, although most people prefer to prune it once a year to maintain an attractive shape.

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A question for Dan Gill: A gardenia bush is overgrown, has leaned over and is taking up part of my sidewalk. For the time being, we used garden ties to hold it up. What is the best way and time to trim it so it isn’t taking over my sidewalk.

— Amanda Piacun

Answer: There is no set way to prune a gardenia. Study the plant carefully to decide how it needs to be shaped. Look at where pruning cuts need to be made to get the gardenia out of the walkway. Prune back to upward-growing branches to encourage the shrub to grow up instead of out.

We typically prune gardenias after they bloom. The flower buds are already present on the plant now. Pruning before blooming removes flower buds and reduces blooming.

However, it may be more important to you to get the gardenia under control than to see the flowers (only the flower buds on the parts you cut off are lost.) In that case, prune now. Or, you could wait until it blooms, and cut it back then. Enjoy the blooms by putting the cut branches with flowers in vases in your house.

So, to summarize, you have three choices: Prune now, but you reduce flowering. Prune when in bloom and use the prunings as cut flowers. Prune when the plant finishes blooming so as not to reduce flowering.

Dan Gill is a horticulturist with the LSU AgCenter. Email questions to [email protected] or add them to the comment section below. Follow his stories at, on Facebook and @nolahomegardenon Instagram.

How And When To Prune A Gardenia Shrub

Gardenia bushes are the apple of the eye of more than a few warm weather gardeners. And with good reason. With rich, dark green leaves and snowy soft blossoms, the gardenia impresses on its looks alone, but it’s not its looks that make the gardenia such a coveted garden addition. Gardenias have won the hearts of their gardeners because of the flower’s exquisite scent.

How to Prune a Gardenia

For as beautiful as gardenias are, however, they are a shrub and like many shrubs, gardenias can benefit from being pruned occasionally. While it is not absolutely necessary to the health of the plant that you prune your gardenia shrub, pruning helps to keep your gardenia shrub shapely and the correct size for its location in your garden.

Because pruning is not essential to the health of your gardenia, it does not have to be done every year. Pruning a gardenia every other year or so will be enough to keep its size manageable. You only need to prune enough to help your gardenia keep its appropriate size and shape.

Make sure that your use sharp shears when pruning your gardenia, as this will help to prevent jagged cuts which can lead to disease in your gardenia shrub.

There are many different theories about what kind of wood on a gardenia should be pruned, but for the most part, experts agree that it is okay to prune both green and brown wood on most varieties of gardenia. Most varieties of gardenia set buds on both the green and brown wood and, therefore, will set blooms regardless of where you prune the bush.

When to Prune a Gardenia

It is best to prune your gardenia shrub right after the blooms have faded in the summer. Gardenias will set their flower buds for the next year in the fall, so pruning in the summer will allow you to cut back some of the older wood without risking cutting away newly set buds.

Most varieties of gardenia only bloom once a year, though breeders have developed a few varieties that can bloom more than once a year. Before pruning your gardenia, make sure to check that the variety that you own only blooms once or has completed its blooming cycle if it does bloom more than once.

While it may be difficult for you to think about cutting away a little bit of such a luscious plant, the fact of the matter is that your gardenia will be much less likely to turn into an unruly beast if you give it a regular pruning.

Gardenia pruning transforms straggly plants into nicely shaped shrubs or houseplants. Tackle gardenia pruning at the right time and with the proper tools to ensure success.

Gardenia Pruning

Most people prune gardenias to shape them or remove unsightly deadwood. Gardenias actually need very little pruning, and most pruning is done for aesthetic reasons. Once every two years is probably often enough, unless your plant is growing so vigorously it really needs to be trimmed back to attain a pleasant shape. Gardenia baskets, topiaries and other houseplants may need more frequent trims to keep their beautiful form.

Gardenia pruning requires a deft touch and patience. When trimming gardenia plants, never trim shorter than four to six inches from the base of the plant. Cutting gardenias shorter than this doesn’t leave the plant with enough growth to support itself.

Tools of the Trade

For successful gardenia pruning, it’s essential to use the right gardening tools. Although you may have pruning shears in the garage or potting shed, using dull, rusty, or flimsy pruning shears damages the gardenia’s woody stems. Woody stems comprise the plant’s vascular system and transport water and essential elements throughout the plant’s system. If it’s damaged, your gardenia may fail to thrive. Using sharp pruning shears ensures a nice, even cut without crushing delicate tissues.Most hand pruners are either bypass or anvil pruners. Bypass pruners function like a pair of scissors, with the two blades joined by a screw. Anvil pruners work like a knife against a cutting board. The top blade slices downwards onto a stationery bottom blade. While either type of pruner works for deadheading and shaping plants such as gardenias, for gardenia pruning, experts recommend a bypass pruner. The cleaner cuts heal faster and cause fewer problems than the more crushing-type of action of the anvil pruner.

Some great pruners to try include:

  • Felco pruners: Nurserymen swear by Felco pruning shears. The lightweight feel and silky cutting action make gardenia pruning a breeze. Felco pruners come in a variety of sizes, indicated by a number. Choose pruners based on the diameter of the branch you need to cut. Felco 2 pruners provide a solid, smooth cut for outdoor gardenia branches and other shrubs with branches three quarters of an inch or smaller in size. Felco 300 series snips and shears may be all that’s needed for gardenia houseplants. Popular Mechanics magazine tested 12 pruner brands, and Felco 2 pruners were the best brand among those they tested.
  • Fiskars pruners: Fiskars produces pruners, scissors and similar items. Fiskars pruners are easy to find in most home and garden centers, and provide solid steel construction and excellent pruning ability.

When to Prune Gardenias

Time gardenia pruning to coincide with the plant’s flowering cycle. The best time to prune gardenias is right after it’s finished blooming but before buds for next year have set. Wait until the very last blossoms fall off naturally from the gardenia, and then prune it into the desired shape. This usually happens towards the end of summer or in the early fall in most gardening zones.If you prune your gardenia too early, you’ll destroy whatever blossoms remain on the plant. Pruning too late destroys next year’s flowers since it removes the newly formed buds.

How to Prune

To trim gardenia houseplants, look at your plant carefully from all angles and sides. Do you notice any branches, leaves or stems sticking out at unusual angles? Using small hand shears or pruners, carefully trim off unsightly pieces. Remove stems without growth, as these are probably dead. For an outdoor gardenia shrub, step back and assess how it looks in the landscape. Is its form pleasant? Are there any dead branches? Is the plant interfering with important structures, such as a window, telephone line, electricity meter, or satellite dish? Carefully prune away deadwood, and use your pruners to shape the gardenia. Remember not to cut it down too much. Leave at least four to six inches on any stem to ensure the gardenia stays healthy.

Caring for Pruning Tools

Properly caring for your garden tools ensures that the next time you reach for them for gardenia pruning, they’ll be ready and waiting. Follow these tips to keep tools in great shape and prevent tools from spreading plant diseases.

  • Clean pruning shears after each use. Hose them off and leave them in the sun to dry, or use a clean cloth to dry them.
  • Store only dry tools. Wet tools encourage rust formation.
  • Use a weak bleach solution to disinfect tools. If your gardenias have problems like molds or fungus, pruning an infected gardenia and using the same tool on a healthy plant may spread the infection. Create a weak bleach solution and dip or soak pruners to kill infectious agents.
  • Sharpen blades using a wetstone.
  • Remove nicks in the blade by filing them smooth.
  • Prevent rust. Immerse tools in a bucket of sand to prevent rust from forming on the blades.


  • Texas A & M University offers comprehensive information on pruning techniques.
  • Learn more about gardenia pruning on Gardening Know How.
  • Study gardenia care basics to ensure a comprehensive plan to keeping your gardening beautiful.
  • Gardenia problems plague even the most experienced gardener. Learn how to tackle gardenia problems before they damage your plant.

Gardenias can often get too large for their spot. Their flowers are so beautiful and fragrant, many gardeners don’t want to do anything that retards blooming. These notes from Ted Stephens at Nurseries Caroliniana, Inc. should help:

“Gardenias flower on both old and new wood. Flower buds that will bloom next spring are set in fall , but on varieties like ‘August Beauty’, which flower in August (and have been flowering since May), these flowers come on current season’s wood. However, the flower production in May was from the previous year’s growth.

It will vary depending on variety. ‘Kleim’s Hardy’, the single-flowering form does both also. Its heaviest flower production is in the spring from the previous years growth, but it will continue to grow through the summer and flower on current season’s wood.

With some varieties, like ‘Mystery’, you could probably say that it flowers mostly on old wood. But it is definitely a variety thing.”

Condensing Ted’s words, a gardenia can be pruned just about anytime and bloom a few months later.

The only time to avoid pruning is in late fall, since new growth might be frozen in winter.

Tags For This Article: gardenia, pruning

Q: I have some gardenia bushes that are about five feet tall. They are so top heavy that I have to tie them back for them to stand erect. Should I prune back the limbs occasionally to allow the stems to “catch up” with the plant’s vertical growth and strengthen themselves so that they can eventually support the weight of the leaves and flowers? When should I prune so as not to diminish the summer blossoms that my wife loves?

A: Whenever you prune a broadleafed shrub such as gardenia, holly, photinia, etc., keep this mantra in mind: new growth resulting from pruning will occur only a few inches from where the cuts are made. You can’t trim the top of your gardenia and expect the bottom to fill out more densely. It won’t happen. If you want the gardenia to be less spindley, do the pruning in three steps:

First, prune it lightly (removing perhaps one fourth of the foliage)in early fall. The reason you can’t remove more foliage is that severe fall pruning makes a gardenia more likely to suffer cold damage. If temperatures threaten to plunge lower than ten degrees this winter, cover the entire plant for a few days with black plastic sheeting anchored to the ground with stones.

Gardenias bloom in early summer. Some of the flowers are produced on twigs that grew the previous year while others form on twigs that develop after March. The second time to prune is the next year in early March. At that time you can remove much more of the plant and shape it to a lower, more oval form. Try to leave untouched the growth closest to the ground. This will be where your wife’s flowers will blossom.

The third time to prune is just after it blooms. In my opinion, this is the most important pruning you’ll do. Shape it to a size three-quarters of what you’d like it to be for the following winter. Head back many of the limbs, so they will grow dense foliage during the rest of the summer. You can do further corrective pruning, if needed, next year.

Tags For This Article: pruning, Summer, Winter

When to prune gardenia

Q:I have a mystery gardenia bush that has gotten leggy. How far should I cut it back, and when should I do it? I plan on moving it, so should I cut it back before or after I move it? I would appreciate any advice you can give me. Thanks. Beverly, San Marcos

A:Your “mystery gardenia,” and all gardenias, should be pruned back after blooming. Ordinarily they are pruned just enough to keep good strong structure to the bush; but in your case, Beverly, since you plan to move it, I would suggest that you cut it back more severely; do it now. With clean, sharp pruning shears, cut at a 45-degree angle about 1/4 inch from a node. Give it a month or so to rest, and then move it in time for it to settle in and re-establish itself before the flush of spring growth.

Gardenias like acidic soil, which we do not have in this area, so when it begins to show signs of growth in the spring, give it a lot of organic material and some fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

It would also help if you move it to a spot that will provide a bit of shade.


Q:Help! Something is eating the leaves of my bougainvillea and it’s killing it. I can’t see any bugs, worms or grasshoppers, which would be my first suspects. But I see no living thing on or around my 8-year-old plants (at least not in the daylight!). Can you help me save my beloved bougainvillea? Laura

A:I think, Laura, that the key phrase here is, “at least not in the daylight.” I also believe that something is not eating the leaves, rather than something is cutting off their source of nutrition and they are slowly starving to death. That elusive something is, likely, the most notorious of nocturnal creatures, the tree rat. Pull on one of the branches with the bad leaves and see if near the far end of that branch the bark has not been chewed.

Bougainvilleas are one of the most “bulletproof” plants on this planet, but after they have been blooming for many years the spent blooms that get caught inside are made-to-order material for rat nests.

A few years ago the same thing happened to a bush of mine. About the only difference was that the bush was about twice the age of yours. The problem was solved and the bush saved by the use of raw oatmeal mixed 50/50 with dry cement.


Cut paper cups down to about an inch high, fill the cut down cup with this mixture, and distribute a lot of them under and around your bush.

Finally, I cannot let the Christmas season go by without a reminder to all lovers of poinsettias to remember to either remove the foil from around the pot or to cut the bottom so the plant will not suffocate because the water will not be able to drain out.

May all of your trees fruit, your flowers bloom and vegetables ripen in 2016.

Rose Crawford is a certified garden consultant and a master composter who lives and gardens in Vista. She answers your gardening questions every other week. Email questions to [email protected]

Gardenia is often found in many home interiors and it bears some of the most beautiful flowers.

General Gardenia facts

Name – Gardenia
Family – Rubiaceae
Type – indoor plant, shrub
Height – 6 ½ feet (2 meters) outside and 1 ⅓ to 3 feet (0.5 to 1 meter) indoors
Soil – soil mix
Exposure – well-lit

Foliage – evergreen
Flowering – May to October

Care, watering, pruning and repotting should help you enhance the blooming.

Planting and repotting gardenia

Growing gardenia isn’t always easy, particular care must be provided to boost gardenia growth and blooming. First of all comes planting and repotting.

Indoor gardenia

Gardenia is most often used indoors in temperate climates because cool winters makes it impossible to grow gardenia out in the open.

  • It is recommended to plant your gardenia in good flower plant soil mix.
  • Select a very luminous location but without any direct sun.

Outdoor gardenia

Planting gardenia outdoors is only possible if the climate is warm in summer and mild in winter, because it cannot survive freezing.

  • Choose a spot that is protected from wind, a bit sunny but not too exposed, part shade ideally.
  • Mix the earth from your garden to soil mix, heath and dried leaves or river sand.
  • Gardenia also requires well-drained soil.

Repotting gardenia

If you’re growing your gardenia in a pot, repotting every 2 to 3 years is prescribed. The plant needs space to grow, and a tight pot would alter its development.

  • Wait for the plant to show it needs more space before repotting.
  • Best repot the gardenia at the end of winter or at the beginning of spring.
  • In certain specialized horticulture stores, special gardenia soil mix can be found.

Propagating your gardenia

The best way to multiply gardenia is cuttings, even though this technique isn’t always crowned with success.

  • Prepare cuttings at the beginning of spring.
  • Select cuttings about 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 cm) long.
  • Pinch off lower leaves, keeping only the topmost pair of leaves.
  • Dip the cutting in powdered rooting hormones.
  • Plant the cuttings in special cutting soil mix or in a blend of peat and river sand.
  • Place your cuttings in a well-lit place, without direct sun. Ensure the moisture levels of the air stay high (you can cover the cuttings with a garden cloche or clear plastic to increase moisture levels).
  • Keep the substrate a little moist.
  • Repot the young plants when the cuttings have already formed nice leaves.

Watering gardenia

Gardenia despises hard water, so it is always best to water from collected rainwater or bottled mineral water.

  • It needs to be watered with rain water or mineral water if the water from your tap is very hard.
  • It also requires constant moisture levels.
  • During the blooming, take care not to get the petals wet, since this will cause blemishes on the flowers or discolor them.

How to provide constant air moisture

To recreate the moisture in the plant’s natural environment, you can place the pot on a bed of clay pebbles or gravel, and ensure the space between these is filled with water.

The water will slowly evaporate and remain in the vicinity of the plant: you have just re-created the plant’s native tropical environment!

Watering gardenia in spring and summer

It is important to water regularly without flooding the plant.

Wait for the surface of the soil to have dried out before watering again. Since gardenia needs very moist air to grow well, spray water on the leaves, but stop doing so as soon as the plant is in full bloom.

Watering your gardenia in fall and winter

Reduce the watering. Wait for the substrate to have dried out down to about as deep as your index finger will reach. When the soil is dry to that point, water again.

Pruning and caring for gardenia

After the blooming, prune your shrub lightly to retain its tight, compact shape while reducing the branches by ⅓.

Remove wilted flowers regularly, since this stimulates production of new flowers.

In order to reinforce the plant and produce spectacular blooming, provide it with special heath plant fertilizer.

Repotting in spring every 2nd year in a blend of heath and soil mix is needed to bolster proper plant growth.

Diseases and parasites that attack gardenia

When grown as an indoor plant, gardenia may encounter most diseases, insects, parasites and mites that attack house plants in general.

Most common parasites are aphids, scale insects and red spider mites.

  • Here is how to fight off scale insects.
  • Here is how to effectively stave off aphids.
  • Here is how to treat against red spider mites.

Note that if your gardenia leaves turn yellow, but the veins and ribs stay green, you’re probably dealing with chlorosis resulting from water that is too hard.

If the flowers fall off before opening up, lack of ambient air moisture is certainly the cause. Spray soft water on the leaves and unopened flowers, but stop when the flowers have opened up or spots will appear.

Learn more about gardenia

Gardenia is certainly one of the most beautiful indoor plants.

Native to tropical and sub-tropical regions of Africa, Asia and Oceania, people usually love it for its abundant flowering that releases a soft jasmine-like fragrance.

This plant will adapt to living indoors very well, as long as moisture levels are very high. Never place it near a radiator or heat source to keep it from dehydrating.

Outdoors, it requires very mild climate, without any frost or freezing in winter.

During winter, freezing would kill the plant, and you’ll have to bring it inside for protection.

Smart tip about gardenia

After having purchased your gardenia, wait for the blooming to end and repot the plant: this will stimulate development and proper growth.

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